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According to a HSE spokesperson, progress was delayed as the plan is being developed by the National Women and Infants’ Health Programme (NWIHP), which was only established in January of this year.
“The NWIHP was established in January 2017. One of the programme’s primary responsibilities is the implementation of the National Maternity Strategy. The NWIHP is currently working on the implementation plan and it is expected to be complete by mid-year,” the spokesperson said.
The plan was originally due to be published within six months of the strategy’s launch in January 2016.
The HSE’s spokesperson also told the Medical Independent (MI) that efforts to fill three key senior positions within the NWIHP were unsuccessful last year.
The NWIHP leadership team will comprise a Programme Director, Clinical Director and Director of Midwifery.
“Attempts to fill the positions of National Programme Director, Clinical Director and Director of Midwifery were unsuccessful in 2016. A Programme Director was seconded in from January 2017, Clinical Director was appointed in January and commenced in March, and an interim Director of Midwifery has been appointed, with an expected start date in June.”
A number of senior clinicians working in Irish maternity services have called for the strategy to be implemented in full without delay.
Vice-Chair of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) in Ireland, Ms Breda Kearns, has said she believes it is unlikely that the strategy will be implemented in full.
According to the HSE, the NWIHP will lead the management, organisation and delivery of maternity, gynaecological and neonatal services within the HSE.
One of the NWIHP’s first tasks is the development and management of the implementation plan and timetable to deliver on recommendations outlined in the National Maternity Strategy.
The NWIHP will be the point of reference within the HSE for all interactions with the Department of Health and other stakeholders on maternity issues.